Pi-powered T-shirt cannon

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I went to a baseball match in Phoenix, Arizona a few years ago. (Go Diamondbacks!) It’s a remarkable cultural experience if you’re not American: and I am grateful to the man next to me who put up with a stream of questions (“Why has that number just gone up? Why isn’t he MOVING? Why does it stop every ten minutes? What is that giant plush hotdog thing? What sort of country carpets its stadia and serves beer at games? How is his leg doing that?”) not by killing me, as he must have been sorely tempted to do, but by sharing his packet of salted sunflower seeds.

I was reminded just how superficial my understanding of American institutions like baseball (or monster trucks, or roller derby, or that thing they call “football” that isn’t) is, and how much of that understanding has been gained entirely from watching The Simpsons. That baseball match had everything: dancing mascots, footlong hot dogs, an organ playing “Take me out to the Ball Game”, and a t-shirt cannon, just like the one that killed Maude Flanders. (This is not a spoiler. Maude Flanders died nearly fifteen years ago.)

Since that baseball game (where none of the t-shirts made it in my direction) I have had the odd daydream about owning a t-shirt cannon. It’d be great. I could use it to clothe people a long way away. David Bryan and a Raspberry Pi have made it all possible.

You’ll need a lot of PVC tubing, an understanding of both Pi the computer and Pi the irrational number, a compressed air tank…and sprinkler valves. Dave’s cannon’s not just a hobby project: it sees regular use at Minnesota Rollergirls events.

Dave has written a superb how-to, with detailed diagrams, parts lists, some help with the maths you’ll need, an explanation of how he came to the engineering decisions he made, all the necessary code, and much more. I must check up on the legality of letting the work experience kids near compressed air: we could use one of these ourselves for events.

Thank you Dave! (If you like the way Dave does things check out his cat feeder, which we featured here last year) – and RIP Maude Flanders.



ukscone avatar

For the REAL Diamondbacks experience you should have watched the game from the hot tub or swimming pool. They have to have gimmicks as they suck Go Yankees :D

Charley avatar

Explaining a Baseball GAME to a Brit is line explaining a Cricket MATCH to a Yank! LOL

ukscone avatar

i’m a Brit and I often have to explain Baseball to my American wife. She thinks the rules should be what she wants them to be & not what they are and she wants Giradi sacked & tells me every single day during the season

Ravenous avatar

“just like the one that killed Maude Flanders. (This is not a spoiler. Maude Flanders died nearly fifteen years ago.)”

Oh No! What series was that? (I’m only up to the fourth. Maybe I’ll just stop now.)

Henk Schuifkaas avatar

Okily dokily!

Jon Colt avatar

Your tutors of things Americana fell woefully short of their education obligation if you were not subjected to a “rasslin’ match”. It has absolutely nothing in common with olympic=style wrestling, but it does have everything in common with a staged farce. There are some whose second–sometimes only–religion is “rasslin”.
My grandmother believed that rasslin’ was real, and the Apollo moon landing was a fake.

raspbee avatar

As always, technology abused for military purposes :D

Stu avatar

Just make sure they are wearing safety glasses when using compressed air. They cost less than £2 and could save your eyes.

Rick avatar

Cool project!
Um, just for the record, that should be baseball GAME not MATCH. :o)

liz avatar

Like I said: British.

Jon Colt avatar

I think that anyone who eats kidney pie and drinks warm beer ought to be allowed to call it whatever they please. Besides, the British have a real penchant for using more mellifluent terms than we yanks: “skip”, for “dumpster/rubbish roll-off”; “loo” for “toilet”, or “bathroom”, and so on.
And besides, didn’t we hijack the term “football” and apply it to something not even resembling what the rest of the world calls ‘football?

Jon Colt avatar

My last comment should have read “kidney pie, warm beer, and haggis (in certain parts of the U.K.).
It is my understanding that there are those gourmands who claim that the only redeeming value of haggis is as the basis of the sport known as haggis-hurling.
Just repeating what I hear….

Niall avatar

Haggis Hurling is not a game, or a sport – it’s a pastime, simply a means of getting the haggis home from the hunting fields. Some haggii, especially the non-diminutive female of the species – identifiable by the two short legs on their left hand side – can be particularly recalcitrant whilst you are trying to get them home. So, “wheeching” them, over-arm, is the preferred method (bur watch out – sometimes they are only ever pretending to be dead, and will get up after being wheeched, and run off to get their men-folk, who will come chasing after you. The safest thing to then do is to run away, keeping the high side of the hills to your left. As the male haggis (the ‘staggis’) has shorter legs on its right hand side, it can only safely run clockwise round hills.
So, it is haggis ‘hunting’ that is the sport – not ‘hurling’.

And, its safer not to have any ‘foot longs’ – remember, these hillsides are covered in thistles and cow-poo (yes, traditional Scottish costume does have one or two drawbacks)

Happy Hunting.


Haggishunter avatar

Thank you for setting the record straight on what is a much-misunderstood sport.

Where I live in the Alternative Highlands, the local subspecies show very little podic dimorphism, and are considered by some authorities to be an offshoot of the famously even-legged Lewis haggis, H. scotii lewigi.

The relatively even legs make them surprisingly difficult to catch in the flow country, which probably explains why all but one of the local chippies import their haggis from further South.

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